The New Year has brought in a series of new laws to the state of Tennessee. Some of them have the potential to affect your life and even your daily routine. In fact, some 16 new laws have entered the books this year. Let’s review a couple of new laws in particular that could impact your life as a driver in Tennessee.
Cell phone calls in school zones
If you decide to use a cell phone while driving through an active school zone in Tennessee, from now on you will face a Class C misdemeanor that carries a $50 fine. This penalty is not applied to the use of hands-free devices. A school zone is active when one or more warning flashers are operating in the zone.
Texting and driving in Tennessee is already illegal. This new law is intended to keep children safe on the streets and distracted drivers focused on the road.
Jim Tizzio, Signal Mountain police detective, wants to see drivers avoid distractions while driving their vehicles, especially when it concerns talking on a cell phone in active school zones. He sees the new law as “just be another tool, another item to look out for and to help educate everybody about.”
It’s important for drivers to keep their attention on children and traffic in these school zones instead of on cell phone conversations. If you are caught talking, texting, or using your phone in any way that is not hands-free in these active zones, you will be penalized with the fine.
“The fines mount up, and after so many offenses, your license can be suspended,” says Earle Farrell with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Regarding enforcement of the new law, Tizzio says there will be an adjustment for officers patrolling the zones, but he hopes it will increase safety for everyone.
Car headlight color restrictions
Another new law prohibits cars from having front lights that are any color other than amber or white. The requirement holds regardless of whether the lights are flashing or steadily burning. Each vehicle is required to have a minimum of two headlights and not more than four.
Colored headlights can distract some drivers. Law enforcement and other first responders reserve the use of blue and red headlights. However, as Tizzio explains, other colors have the potential to cause distraction and confusion for other drivers.
Under the new law, you will still be permitted to have and use colored headlights on your vehicle if it is in a stationary position – for instance, at a cruise-in or classic car show. When driving however, only white or amber headlights may be used. Violations of the law can result in a fine and court costs.
Exemptions to the law are provided for specialty vehicles such as school buses, emergency vehicles, mail carriers and official escort vehicles.
Whether you are accused of a serious criminal offense, or a minor traffic infraction, the experience can be alarming and sometimes daunting. You have the presumption of innocence under the law, and an experienced criminal defense attorney from Delius & McKenzie, PLLC can defend that presumption on your behalf. To set up a free consultation with us about your case, call 865.280.3686, or complete our contact form. We are here to serve you in and around Sevierville, Gatlinburg, Seymour, and Pigeon Forge.